• Matthew Crist

MEDICAL CONSENT AND BIRTH

Updated: Aug 18, 2017

Childbirth is an exciting and complex time. Medical providers during the childbirth process have to adapt to changing conditions because no birth is "normal." Many women and providers attempt to set forth a birth plan prior to going into labor, however, such plans regularly do not cover all possible contingencies. Complicating matters further, a woman may attempt to plan on giving birth when a certain provider is present, however, babies rarely stick to a schedule. With all the complicating factors, how can informed consent be sufficient to cover the entire process?


Medical malpractice in Virginia consists of a medical provider breaching the appropriate standard of care and that breach causing a substantial injury. Consent prior to going into labor is intended to inform the woman what she is to expect and to attempt to mitigate potential liability of the provider and facility. Consent, however, can be revoked at anytime.


The conflict of a woman's autonomy with medical providers providing care in a way convenient for the providers creates exceptional problems. The case of Kimberly Turbin provides a particularly outrageous example of a woman explicitly revoking consent to an episiotomy, but her doctor performing the procedure over a dozen times despite the revocation.


Medical malpractice, or worse, regularly occurs in the birthing suite with little or no remedy available to the victim. The law often views these injuries as insubstantial and therefore there may be no remedy, or an insultingly small remedy.

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